Making your own powerful Controller on the cheap side

Phil, Why stay with the Arduino and a USB interface? If I was to upgrade away from the X-Controller (I did start with the UNO-GRBL Shield) I would like to have an Ethernet or other connection that was not USB as this is the weakest point I see in the configuration. I have looked at a Raspberry Pi hat that would get rid of the USB connection but I don’t believe that would be enough of a reason to change out the X-Controller but if I still had the UNO-GRBL setup I would do that before I went to a solution that was USB based.
here is a link to a board that I looked at after buying the X-Controller. http://blog.protoneer.co.nz/raspberry-pi-cnc-board-hat/ for your review. Just saying that even you have had problems with the USB cable and it is something to consider.

1 Like

But then again I also don’t know which programs this play nice with, It might be a communication problem between programs like UGS and not having a USB type connection.

2 Likes

Here is the driver I’m using. It’s probably the same as the ST-6600 with a different name.

I have mine wired up the way you have it in your diagram. You will see diagrams on the internet that hook +5 volts to the (PULS+) input on all devices and then run the Arduino signal to (PULS-) on each driver as the control. ( the same for the other signals ).

I just prefer to do it the other way and it’s been working fine for me.

To slave two channels (Y1 and Y2) just hook the step and direction signal from the Arduino to two drivers and then use the Inventables technique of pair reversal on one motor to get the two motors to turn in opposite directions. The enable signal is just paralleled as for the other drivers.

[EDIT] forgot to mention that you can use two motors on one driver (with one pair on one motor reversed).

1 Like

I used the previous version of that product. http://blog.protoneer.co.nz/arduino-cnc-shield/ which i actually think is still a better design (2 stepper drivers for the y axis)with this http://wyolum.com/projects/alamode/ But even if you use pololu’s most powerful stepper drivers (DRV8825) it is still 2.2 amps max current. It will run at much higher voltages. and if your going to use 2+ amps you better heat sink the hell out of them. Also could never get limit/home switches to work. To much electrical interference having every thing stacked on top of itself. I tried every electrical trick known to man. Other than that worked fantastic.

1 Like

I understand that you want to keep Easel compatibility, but Phil you might be tempted by this: if you ditch Arduino and GRBL and go for a Smoothieboard instead you gain support for a fourth axis. I know you want to carve totem poles…

3 Likes

Might have been the first thing I tried. Yeah I wasn’t kidding when I said every electrical trick known to man. I’m using the x-controller now any way. Thanks.

2 Likes

Your guide to installing Smoothieboard in a CNC Milling Machine

I bought one of the cheap 40W Chinese laser cutters last September and have since replaced its native controller with a Smoothie, but I’m still in the early stages of figuring out how to use it. Smoothie is a very popular choice for delta style 3D printers because it’s got a LOT more processing power than the Arduino.

The background is that GRBL is the implementation of a G-Code interpreter for the Arduino. Smoothie also speaks G-Code, but uses its own open source implementation. So things like UGS should work fine (haven’t tried it, I’m using something called Laser Web 3 for my laser). I’m not sure if it uses the same $commands for settings.

Smoothie does support external stepper drivers (you can see it mentioned on the right side of the page above).

It seems like if you want to upgrade from an Arduino based controller to next level capabilities you’d either have to go to a Mach based solution or a Smoothie - the Smoothie should be less of a complete switch than Mach.

If you stay with Arduino/GRBL I’ll totally understand not wanting to do a bigger leap, but I can hear that 4th axis capability calling you in your sleep…

3 Likes

BTW, you wouldn’t be the first X-Carve owner doing this, see thread here

2 Likes

I am about to go down the same route (had hardware for a while but no time to play)
Unless I recall incorrectly you can connect the new drivers directly to the shield outlets (with their original drivers removed)
=> access to Y2 without any modification.

Cool if someone could verify :smiley:

1 Like

External Stepper Drivers

You don’t even have to remove the original driver.

2 Likes

Another option is an Arduino controller w/ more power stepper drivers — Panucatt has a very nice one, their Gradus M1 Pro: http://www.panucatt.com/product_p/gm1pro.htm

2 Likes

Maybe you would want to know the policy of Inventables for DIY X-Controllers. Will Easel be available for non-inventables controllers in future?

Maybe the X-Controller is not the cheapest but for a business the support for both soft and hardware would make it worth the money.

1 Like

If only I would have know about that before I bought the x-controller. I looks solid.

Remember that the Xcontroller is still an Arduino based controller, they just made a custom board that had it integrated on the board instead of using a prepackaged Arduino Uno.

That being said, the schematics are open source and a quick price list indicated major components including 4 drivers are like $30 for the ICs. You’ll need some more for heatsink, caps, resistors, etc. and some circuit layout work but you could make your own. youd be able to reuse your current power supply which probably makes up a good sized chunk of the Xcontroller price.

In fact, if you could order an Xcontroller without a power supply, it may make the cost more bearable. Maybe put in an email to Inventables to see if that’s an option?

1 Like

Why not work with the Inventables team to spec out your wants/needs and see if they could develop a new and improved XController version? Just like v1 to v2 of the entire XCarve machine, the XController could enjoy a new revision. Perhaps all it needs is to replace the circuit board/driver and not the entire box with the power supply, etc. I’d like it to deliver a separate 4th axis driver not slaved as two Y drivers like it is now.

Don’t know if this would help out any but this is where i get all my stuff.
http://www.automationtechnologiesinc.com/

1 Like

Just curious but why not go with four so that the Y isn’t shared current? It’d be easy to slave two together. That is what the Xcontroller implemented.

1 Like

How about fastened together with a spiral inclined plane around a central core?

7 Likes

I had to contemplate using wood for nixie clocks that I build because of heat and an old man I know said “well when I was a young’n all of our gizmos were in wooden boxes , radios and what not and they all got hot as hell and never caught fire” I felt like an idiot afterwards …

I used wood.image

1 Like